Saturday, December 30, 2006

Black Male Artist
Kofi Fosu Forson

Black male artists having outlived the Harlem Renaissance are now a throwback to the Jean-Michelle Basquiat mystique of a black male artist as genius. But overall whether they are African, Jamaican or African American, they express a sense of prescience and fortitude. This is what the knowledge of art affords them.

The black male artist is well read. He knows his history. His sexuality can be interpreted as heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual. He is a slave to his art. He is a pig to his art. There is a perversion there… a constant perversion to paint and fornicate. Painting is the instinct. Women are the resolution.

Money is air the black male artist breathes. It is natural, acquired through friends, the public and his art. Money is the canceling point because he never has enough of it. Sometimes, he never has any of it at all.

The sexuality of the black male artist is peculiar. Women pass through him as anything from lovers to business partners. It is the exchange. Women are like decorations, similar to butterflies surrounding a gorilla. Sexually, the black male artist doesn’t discriminate.

The black male artist will always be viewed as potentially "free" in love, of self, of art, of the opposite sex, of the same sex and of the universe. This is true of an artist of any sex or culture. But the black male artist crushes the view of the black male as "Psycho-sexual."

The neurosis of the black male artist is of the sexual and intellectual. This is true because of the role their mothers have played in their lives. Firstly, the mother is a dominant female figure representative of an unattainable woman. She is the very person the black male artist associates with the idea of love. His sexuality either blossoms as a “sexual dynamo” or crumbles whereby women form a neurotic complex.

What is the black male artist’s notion of the intellect and sexual? We all have a personal history. However we are governed by an overall history which defines us as a community, a race and a gender. Seemingly, we are not divided by race or gender but by intellect. We are informed by the same media, educated by principal schools and taught morally how to behave. The experience is very much culturally the same. How then does the black artist form his notion on sex and the intellect?

Intellectually, the black male artist was raised on a variety of philosophies, from slave narratives, to that of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. He has read books by James Baldwin and Richard Wright.

While attending art colleges, the black male artist associated with the white public. He became introduced to white women. It was a colonization of sorts. The black woman was replaced by images of nude white women in classical paintings.

Andy Warhol gave us Basquiat.

Post Basquiat has paved the way for other black artists. What also begot Basquiat and is clear in the hip hop world are the roles of the playa, pimp and thug. These are the current archetypes of the black male. As a playa, he is in control of his sexuality. For better or worse, women define him as a lover. The pimp is an example of a man and his maneuverability. He uses women and men to gain an advantage. The thug in this case is more domineering and physical.

It was once said the older white woman walking with the younger black man isn’t his lover. She’s his mentor. Don’t look now. She could be everything from his agent to the woman he’s manipulating for money or sex.

The artist is a passenger of love. The black male artist is one in the same.

Kofi Fosu Forson

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